Intelligent Buildings

Using its SaaS platform, Facilio manages building operations, making them intelligent and energy-efficient

Prabhu Ramachandran, Co-founder, Facilio / Photograph by AR Sumanth Prabhu Ramachandran, Co-founder, Facilio / Photograph by AR Sumanth

Commercial real estate may be a fast-growing segment but remains a high-maintenance affair. Roughly 80 per cent of a building's lifecycle cost is spent on operations, repair and recapitalisation. One reason is that the owners lack critical real-time information on the building's operations. Prabhu Ramachandran, the co-founder and CEO of Facilio, believes there is a tech solution to this.

Facilio uses a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform combined with Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence to manage and increase operational and cost efficiencies of building assets such as elevators, air-conditioners, security systems and alarms in real time. This also saves energy. "Facil in Spanish means easy," says Ramchandran, who had started Facilio with friends S. Rajavel, Yogendrababu and Krishnamoorthi Rangasamy in 2017. The company is registered in Atlanta, US.

Ramachandran used to work with Zoho Corporation, a SaaS-based multinational company based in Chennai, where he headed its IoT-connected solution for 17 years. Rajavel and Yogendrababu used to work with Ramachandran at Zoho while Rangasamy had about two decades experience in IT sales and support when Facilio was founded.

How It Is Done

Traditionally, building operations are managed by hardware solutions, while data is managed manually. There is no central way to spot faults in real time. This hinders a comprehensive view of building maintenance and ensures that facility managers do not receive the right data to solve problems, which impacts their efficiency and increases costs. Facilio says it digitally transforms this scenario. Its solution has four modules - for improving maintenance, enhancing sustainability, improving the asset and enhancing the user experience. It connects existing building automation systems with everyday work flow and provides insights and suggests actions. "We have automated systems and hardware (sensors, for instance) for optimising operations. Our system can be connected with existing systems to collect data from all assets. This data is transmitted to a centralised cloud storage where it is analysed. The results are available on a mobile app that the facility managers can access to take data-driven decisions," says Ramachandran. "For example, if an AC is not working because of filter blockage, our system will detect the problem and send a message to the technician and the operations manager and suggest solutions. This saves operational expenses and increases the life of the asset by 25 per cent," he says.

Bangalore-based coworking space operator IndiQube, which started using Facilio's solution a few months ago, says it has helped it reduce the time to resolution and manage operations more efficiently. "With more than 35 workspace infrastructure in major Indian cities, we were looking at ways to optimise maintenance. Facilio gave us a centralised platform to manage maintenance schedules and vendor workflows at multiple locations," says Deepak Dadhich, Vice President, Operations, IndiQube.

Facilio started operations with 17 employees. It now has 70 people working for it. It is backed by seed funding of $1.2 million from Accel Partners at a coworking space in Chennai and rolled out its first product in May 2018. The company has a 25,000 square feet office in Chennai and branches in Dubai and the US. It has 20 customers in Middle East, the US, Brazil and India and has helped manage around 35 million square feet of commercial real estate space. "We have 50 more customers in the pipeline and have done pilot projects in many large commercial establishments in the US and the Middle East," says Ramachandran. Last December, Facilio raised $6.4 million from Accel Partners and Tiger Global.

Since the solutions are SaaS-based, Facilio has a subscription-based revenue model. The customer can choose any module according to his need. The company earned revenues of $1 million in its one year of operations. Facilio plans to expand to Europe and APAC markets and double its revenue over the next 12 months. "The sector is least explored and has immense potential. The global facilities market facilities market is worth around $2 trillion. We aspire to create a billion dollar company in the next five years," says Ramachandran.

K.T.P. Radhika is a freelance journalist based in Chennai